The UCO investigated the RFEF headquarters for hours and made several arrests

Corruption in Spanish football puts 2030 World Cup in jeopardy

La Guardia Civil española de la Unidad Central Operativa (UCO) y agentes de Europol salen tras un registro en la sede de la Real Federación Española de Fútbol (RFEF) en Las Rozas de Madrid el 20 de marzo de 2024 – PHOTO/JAVIER SORIANO/AFP
La Guardia Civil española de la Unidad Central Operativa (UCO) y agentes de Europol salen tras un registro en la sede de la Real Federación Española de Fútbol (RFEF) en Las Rozas de Madrid el 20 de marzo de 2024 – PHOTO/JAVIER SORIANO/AFP

For decades, Spanish football has been living in the middle of a quagmire that nobody wants to get out of and nobody wants to clean up. A parallel world where whoever enters leaves with their hands stained and their bank account full of money.   

If a few years ago the Guardia Civil's Central Operational Unit entered the headquarters in Las Rozas and arrested Ángel María Villar, now they are retracing their steps because the trail that Rubiales has left behind is terrible and it does not seem that there is anything legal in his four years at the head of Spanish football.   

The investigating judge has serious doubts about the RFEF's contracts with China, the Arab Super Cup and the works agreements awarded to Antonio González Segura, brother of the Federation's legal adviser and architect who was in charge of the works at La Cartuja stadium. Tomás González Cueto, the legal arm of Luis Rubiales during his time as president along with Andreu Camps, and Pedro González Segura, the current legal director of the RFEF, were arrested during the inspection of Las Rozas and other homes, including that of Rubiales, who, coincidentally, was in the Dominican Republic doing hotel business and from where he does not plan to return until 6 April.  

El expresidente de la Federación Española de fútbol, Luis Rubiales - REUTERS/DENIS BALIBOUSE
Former Spanish Football Federation president Luis Rubiales - REUTERS/DENIS BALIBOUSE

Luis Rubiales arrived at the RFEF with a certain amount of approval from the government because Villar's figure sounded old hat. His cases are still in court, his pension has been seized and the recognition of FIFA and UEFA is intact because they invite him to events and take him into account while he gives talks on law at some universities, as a lawyer.   

Now the Guardia Civil is back in the RFEF, although the president left months ago. A place that has become a sports madhouse for those who live in the offices of this parallel world. The government of Pedro Sánchez and, specifically, José Manuel Franco as president of the CSD, protected Rubiales beyond ethics and morals when the case of the contracts with Saudi Arabia exploded. The audios, possibly leaked by his uncle Juan Rubiales, were the tip of the iceberg of the misdeeds that were being committed in that dark place in Spanish football.   

Miguel Galán has been the master of ceremonies in all this for many years. The president of the National Training Centre for Football Coaches in Spain (CENAFE) has filed numerous complaints against everything that goes on in there and, with the Super Cup, the flute has been blown because the judge sees strange things.  

Un cámara toma imágenes de la sede de la Federación Española de Fútbol donde un juez el 28 de septiembre de 2023 ha ordenado un registro policial en la sede del comité de árbitros español, en Las Rozas de Madrid - PHOTO/AFP/JAVIER SORIANO
A camera takes pictures of the headquarters of the Spanish Football Federation where a judge on 28 September 2023 has ordered a police search at the headquarters of the Spanish referees' committee, in Las Rozas de Madrid - PHOTO/AFP/JAVIER SORIANO

The RFEF's magnet for money and its peculiar system of chain of favours to get into office is something worthy of study. Neither the CSD nor the government could bring Rubiales down for kissing Jennifer Hermoso. Nor did the CAS see it as too serious. It was then that FIFA sanctioned the president, who was born in Motril and directed the destiny of the footballers' union for years, for up to three years.   

José Manuel Uribes, president of the CSD, says that the 2030 World Cup organised by Morocco with Spain and Portugal is not in danger. The specialised press reports that FIFA called the RFEF and also the two countries involved who want to know with whom they will share the implementation of a World Cup with all that it implies for many sectors and the money at stake.  

The Guardia Civil is even looking for movements of cryptocurrencies, so they think that Rubiales' plot must be very extensive and, who knows, if the next to fall will be Piqué. The leaked messages between the two did not look good and hid much more than a simple contract.   

Carlos Herrera is already asking for a pass as eagerly as he is ignorant about what is going on in there. The territorial bodies, the referees and even futsal (where the carpets cover up too much) are the executing arms that you have to win over to sit on the throne. That is what Pedro Rocha has been earning for months, Rubiales's dolphin was not his puppet, just someone capable of keeping the cupboards tightly closed so that the corpses of other times do not spill out.   

Spanish football in danger. Rubiales has made Villar worse in a tenth of the time the Basque was in the job and he may be blamed for alleged crimes more quickly than his predecessor.